Not Jelly Fish

Villagers and visitors in La Herradura were surprised to find a line of transparent creatures lying along the shore line.

This occurred around mid December, which would have been very strange if they were jelly fish, but they weren’t; they were salapas, or in English, a salp, which are a barrel-shaped planktonic tunicate and they move by contracting, thereby pumping water through its gelatinous body, one of the most efficient examples of jet propulsion in the animal kingdom. And whilst they’re jetting around, they are straining the pumped water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton.

Quoting from Wikipedia: “A reason for the success of salps is how they respond to phytoplankton blooms. When food is plentiful, salps can quickly bud off clones, which graze on the phytoplankton and can grow at a rate which is probably faster than that of any other multicellular animal, quickly stripping the phytoplankton from the sea.

But if the phytoplankton is too dense, the salps can clog and sink to the bottom. During these blooms, beaches can become slimy with mats of salp bodies, and other planktonic species can experience fluctuations in their numbers due to competition with the salps.”

Now, they can form chains of up to 20 metres long and when there is plenty of planktonic grub around they reproduce like crazy and the next thing you know they get washed up onto beaches.

Do they sting? No, so don’t panic if they make another visit.

(News/Noticias: Herradura, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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